Tavares, Fla., Alex Job Racing (AJR) pulled off a hat-trick 10-days ago by sweeping the GTC class podium in the 58th running of American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring race. AJR three cars The...
Tavares, Fla., Alex Job Racing (AJR) pulled off a hat-trick 10-days ago by sweeping the GTC class podium in the 58th running of American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring race.
AJR three cars The team took a historic win with the No. 81 Mission Foods/Alex Job Racing/Porsche GT3 911 Cup car driven by Juan Gonzalez (Mexico City, Mexico), Butch Leitzinger (Rebersburg, PA) and Leh Keen (Charleston, SC). In the team car, Bill Sweedler (New York, New York), Romeo Kapudija (Chicago, Illinois) and Jan-Dirk Lueders (Barrington Hills, IL in the No. 23 Battery Tender/Tequila Patron//Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry finished second and the No. 80 Car Amigo/IDN/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry piloted by Luis Diaz, Ricardo Gonzalez and Patrick Kelly came third closing out the AJR hat-trick. There has only been one other time, in the 58-race history of the Sebring 12-hour, that a single team has gone one - two - three at the finish. (The other time was in 2000 when the Oreca Vipers took the top three positions in GTS-1).
- AJR entries finish one - two - three in GTC
- Leh Keen GTC pole sitter, 2:05.959
- Leh Keen fastest GTC race lap, 2:07.355
- J. Gonzalez, Keen and Leitzinger win, complete 308 laps
- Kapudija, Sweedler, Lueders second, 305 laps
- Diaz, R. Gonzalez, Kelly third, 304 laps
- Juan Gonzalez bests brother Roberto who finished third at Sebring in 1976
- Ricardo Gonzalez equals father, Roberto's finish of third from 1976
- Luis Diaz posts second consecutive Sebring podium finish, won P2 in 2009
- AJR cars completed a combined 917 laps or 3,392.9-miles
- Seventh Sebring 12-hour win for AJR
What they said:
"This is a dream come true for me," Juan Gonzalez said. "I have been racing at this track for 20 years in vintage. I always wanted to run the 12-hour race. In 1976 I was here when my brother finished third."
"It wasn't easy," Keen said. "The race was pretty intense. The only hiccup we had was the pit lane violation. We were able to finish with a couple of laps lead."
"Leh and Juan did a great job," Leitzinger said. "By the time I got in the car we had a great lead and that makes it easy. I just kind of pumped out laps. I hate to say it, but it was about as easy as a race at Sebring ever gets."
"The only issue we had was that we couldn't use the brights with the lights," Sweedler said. "We were able to bring it home in second."
"It was a great day for Alex Job Racing, Battery Tender and Tequila Patron," Kapudija said. "The team worked really hard to get the car flawless for the race. My last stint I just drove it around like it was Sunday."
"It was awesome," Lueders said. "My last stint was in the dark. I like driving at night and in traffic. We had a little high-speed under-steer in the car, but other than that it was a lot of fun."
"I am very happy, what a great way to start out the year," Diaz said. "At the beginning of the race we had a lot of issues and it really didn't look even possible to make it to the podium, but everybody in the team did a great job, the three of us managed to be very consistent and nobody put a wheel wrong."
"What a great feeling," Gonzalez said. "I had always dreamed of competing in ALMS and to be on the podium on my first start is amazing. We have been working on this project for a long time and now thanks to IDN, Cooper Gay and Rainmaker Group here we are in Sebring, third in class and with the best team in the paddock."
"The car ran great," Kelly said. "We were able to double stint our tires. I made a slight error. I let go of the pit lane speed limiter too early. I had a couple of bobbles, but I think my pace was really good. There was fits and spurts in traffic, I would have five laps of traffic and then five clear."
The team's weekend looked promising right off of the trailer on the first practice that Monday. It was the first time that the drivers and team would work together as the final contracts for the team did not come together until 10-days before the Sebring weekend started. The team was at the top or near the top of the GTC time sheets every session on the track. In qualifying, Leh Keen gave a glimpse of what was to come by posting a lap time of 2:05.959. This time was over a half second faster than the second place qualifier, which happened to be the Patrick Kelly in the No. 80 IDN/Car Amigo AJR Porsche. Romeo Kapudija followed in third with the No. 23 Battery Tender/Tequila Patron AJR entry. The AJR Porsche contingent took the green flag one - two -three on the GTC grid.
At the start of the race AJR cars were running strong. Keen had the No. 81 in the lead by some 40-seconds until a caution came out on lap 29. However on lap 28 Kapudija pitted to replace a right rear tire. The pit stop was out of sequence and sent the 23 car down a lap. On lap 31, under caution, the 81 and 80 pitted together. The 81 took two rear tires and the 80 just took fuel. This would allow the 80 to lead the GTC race briefly as the 81 spent an extra minute in the pits to take two rear tires.
As the race progressed to the four hour mark, the No. 80 car had dropped back to seventh in class, some two laps down. The team was forced to pit out of sequence a couple of times to replace flat spotted tires and to replace a driver as a result of heat prostration. Patrick Kelly was in the car when his cool suit failed and he had to pit. He later recovered and took his regular stints to closeout race. At this point the No. 81 was being driven by Butch Leitzinger who was in cruise mode with nearly a lap lead. The No. 23 was back-up to second.
At the eight hour point, Juan Gonzalez was driving the 81 and posting competitive lap times well in the lead. The No. 23 was in the hands of Kapudija in second and the No. 80 team had battled their way back into fourth with Patrick Kelly back at the controls.
At approximately 8:00 p.m. a full course caution flew and the team was running one - two - three which is how they would finish.
Job w/trophy "The No. 81 car had as near a perfect run as I have ever seen in my 20 years of running at Sebring," Job said. "We had one mistake where the ground cable on the car wasn't removed after fueling and Leh took off and we had to pay a one minute penalty on pit lane. Other than that the car just took fuel, a fresh driver and a splash of oil. Juan, Leh and Butch had no mistakes on the track and the car went to victory circle without a scratch. The No. 23 guys had a few on track issues with spins early, but I attribute that to first time Sebring 12 hour jitters. We were able to get them settled down and focused and home in second. Luis, Ricardo and Patrick also had some early issues and then Patrick's heat problem. Again the team remained focused and was able to come back from seventh, down two laps to finish in third. It was a great team effort and I hope the performance can carry over to Long Beach and onto the rest of the season."
The series will travel to the streets of Long Beach, California for the Long Beach Grand Prix to be run on April 17.
Alex Job Racing is one of the most successful teams in ALMS history with 37 wins. This record is supported by 45 pole positions and 75 podium finishes. The team has won three championships (GT in 2002, 2003 and 2004) complimented by their two GT class wins at Le Mans. The team also boasts seven Sebring 12 hour wins.
The ALMS GTC category is specific to one of the most popular factory produced racing cars in the world, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Developed for Porsche's one-make series around the world, the new version of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup is based on the road-going 911 GT3 RS. The power unit featured in the new 911 GT3 Cup is largely identical to the production engine of the 911 GT3 RS with the same output of 450 bhp and the same maximum engine speed of 8,500 rpm.